B2B Revenue Acceleration
B2B Revenue Acceleration

Episode · 2 years ago

63: Why Should You Invest in Sales Coaching? w/ Richard Smith


Like many sales reps, Richard Smith was thrown into the deep end in his first sales role as an SDR. Along the way, he developed his skills via trial and error, receiving little feedback on his performance.


Sure, he made it.


But he thought, “Wouldn’t I have made it sooner if someone had coached me?”


That driving thought has been the engine for confounding Refract — a sales coaching company that analyzes sales conversations and helps “unlock the black box” of those conversations so sales leaders can effectively coach their sales teams.


Richard came on the B2B Revenue Acceleration podcast to share some insights into how sales leaders and managers can rethink sales coaching.


What we talked about:

  • Sales leaders believe in coaching (but they still aren’t coaching)
  • Time & lack of training are the 2 reasons leaders don’t coach 
  • Sales leaders can utilize tech to save time & measure coaching
  • Tech supplements culture, but culture comes first
  • Tech saves time
  • Tech enables peer-to-peer coaching
  • Tech helps measure & track coaching


This is an interview with Richard Smith, Cofounder & Head of Sales at Refract.


To hear this interview, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

I think three quarters of organizations willopenly tell you that the fundamental role of a sales manager is to coach andimprove that team. On that basis, why is the most important function ofa sales manager not getting the priority that it deserves? You were listening tobb revenue acceleration, a podcast dedicated to helping software executives stay on the cuttingedge of sales and marketing in their industry. Let's get into the show. Hi, welcome to be to beewer of a new acceleration. My name isalready in with you and I'm yet today with Richards. Me Go from doneed of sense as refracts. How are you today, Richards? I'm verywell, reliant and yeah, really appreciate you having me on your show.Very much looking forward to the discussion, and me too, and me dobecause it's about seals, couching and I love since cotching. Lots of differentmethodology, also different way to go about it, but so as an interestingtopic. But before we go into theaters of the conversation, Richard, wouldyou manage producing yourself in a little bit more details, as well as givingan idea of what your company, refract does for your clients. Yeah,certainly so. Yeah, I'm the one of the CO founders in the thehead of sales here at refract, where a UK technology company based in Newcastle. I've been in sales personally for about ten years. Started off as anstare straight out of university, really with in a situation like I think mostpeople find themselves are not really knowing where what I wanted to do with mycareer and seemingly felt that my kind of behaviors and personality and kind of careerdesires we're nicely aligned with the profession of sales. So I worked in theSoftware Rena all of my career so far. As I said, started as anest all, literally picking the phone up, booking appointments for sales peopleof kind of progress and develop really doing almost all parts of the sales processsince then and now of a very grateful to have been founded a company andhad the chance to build out my own sales organization here. I guess thatthe reason why we built refractor was all through my own personal experiences of tryingto figure out this whole sales thing along the way. The challenge that Ihad early on in my career is is actually a challenge that I think ismore universal. I seriously believe that my success in sales has been very significantlyhammered by the lack of coaching and development that I received early on in mycareer. How much of my early part of my career was was was reallyabout, as I said, kind of figuring it, figuring all out bymyself, making the mistakes and really not benefiting from that continuous, important feedbackand mentorship from sales leadership on on how I can improve. I think there'slots of lots of challenges as to why that didn't take place, which I'msure we're going to we're going to get into that on the show. Butthis problem of sales people not regularly being improved and not having the coaching thatthat's going to set them up for successes is a is a problem being facedacross the world and I think is a is a cause of many sales peoplenot hit in quote Nott, not staying around at their companies for as longas they should and, ultimately, the the impact that has on the bottomline for any, any business out there. Yeah, okay, that makes sense. So refract he's basically what he's is it the company it does,since coutch or themation. What would you give the exactly? Yeah, sureso, in a nutshell, refract analyzers conversations that sellers are having with theirprospects and customers and really unlocks the black box of those conversations and surface molliplein sights to sales leadership, but maybe even wider across the organization, aboutwhat's happening in those conversations, the topics...

...that are being discussed, the competitorsthat are being mentioned, the questions and objections that seals people are facing,and really surfacing that data and making that more accessible for sales leadership so theycan have a tighter grasp about which conversations they should be paying most attention to. But also leads sales leadership to coaching opportunities by pinpointing where those defining momentsin those conversations are taking place and really taking the heavy lifting out of whathas been perceived as quite a time consuming task in sales managers. Really acoaching and improving those conversations to have more successful outcomes make sense. So I'mrecently came across one of your article, Richard, and and that's probably statethat sends people will own coach. Our twenty seven person more likely to meetfor that. So that's kind of a quarter or smaller sells than the onethat I'm being coushed. So why do you think companies still don't see thevalue investing sales coach? It's a great question and I think the key pointthey're really in the keyword that you use phrases don't see the value. Andit's interesting because when I speak, I spend my days speaking with sales leadersand sales managers and I very rarely come across anybody who says that they don'tsee the value and coaching. Everybody, everybody talks very openly about that.They they know that coaching is very valuable, that they should be doing it,they should be doing more of it, and that the problem is is thatthere's one thing about seeing something and there's another thing about actually doing it. And the reality is is that most companies will point to the fact thatcoaching is such a valuable activity that they know that it really moves the needin their business, but when you actually look behind the scenes, the realityis that it's still not happening or isn't happening as much or it's not aseffective as it should be. So there's this big sort of dichotomy between whatpeople are saying, what companies are saying, versus what's actually happening. And we'reactually we're actually seeing this happen on the sales rep level as well,where most sales people say they don't receive any coaching whatsoever, yet their salesmanagement are saying the opposite, that they're saying that they coach regularly. SoI think actually a lot of it is the fact that sales management, whatthey believe they're doing is coaching, is not being is not being seen asthat by the actual sales that their sales people. There's a big disparity thereand I think the reasons why coaching is maybe not taking places is, ifI'm going to be brutally honest, it it comes down to excuses. I'mnot saying those excuses are all non valid, but you know people who will saythat the it's a time consuming exercise, they don't know how to coach,they don't know where to get started and ultimately all these things, Ithink, are these things should be fixed. These are these excuses which can beaddressed and I think when you when you actually consider the the the revenueimpact that good, effective, quality coaching can have, then it's company shouldbe should be really using less of those excuses and pay more attention to it. That makes sense. That makes sense. And another push I want you toto twist. He's around the managers. Actually, you spoke about them,manager, and and and we when you manager said is think you've gotto manage a number. You've got to manage the people with both you.You've got to manage the people on the side of you see to work withyour bus, you to work your CEO, CFO, you've got to walk withmarketing, you what need to walk this finance, but you also haveto manage your team and manage down number. So you know experience one of themain reasons why manager of cars or don't want to coach. Yeah,it's a big question to ask and I think from what I see it fallsinto two book it's first of all, it's it's a perceived lack of timethat they see it as a time consuming exercise, and the other is thatactually the majority of sales managers get to that position because they were just actuallyreally good sales people. That they were high performers and by nature of thembeing high performers they were promoted to being...

...sales managers. But actually the best, the best professionals don't always become the best, the best coaches. Youknow, we see this in the will in the world of football all thetime. There's been some world class coutball, world class footballers that have been atthe top of their game that when they have given their chance, theirarmor football management, they fail spectacularly. And because it's it's not because theywere actually that they were actually poor footballers, that that wasn't the case. Itwas just that they didn't have the skills and capabilities to be able tolead a team. And they're very two, two very separate skills. And ifI just address both of those individually, so that the time aspect, thisone really frustrates me because it's not about a lack of time. Itshould actually say it's actually a lack of prioritization that I think three quarters oforganizations will openly tell you that the fundamental role of a sales manager is tocoach and improve their team. On that basis, why is the most importantfunction of a sales manager not getting the priority that it deserves and we haveto look at what are all the tasks that are managers doing that's actually stoppingthem all that, that is taking up their time, which is preventing themfrom doing that really crucial activity. And the realities that managers are spending toomuch time looking at boards, they're looking at CRMS, they're looking at activitymetrics, they're in meetings, you name it, but they're being good anddown with all is essentially admin which is taking them away from actually doing thethings which is which are really going to improve the performance and move the needle. You know, I most managers will spend coateless amounts of time looking atstats and dashboards and talking about those metrics to their sales people. Yeah,they don't need to do that because those metrics are actually openly available for salespeople to to see anyway. You know, I don't need to be told whatmy activity metrics will last week because I can just log into the crmand actually see them. I don't need my manager tell me tell me thosethings. What I what I want for my manager is I want my managerto say, okay, you know, you those less deals last week.Are You boot less meetings last week. Then then your peers. You actuallyyou actually made a similar amount of calls or you know, you you've gota similarmount of pipeline and I want to understand, well, how come thisperson over there is actually what? What is he doing differently in his conversationsand what is he what is what the behaviors that he has that that's makinghim more successful? And this is what coaching should be. It should beanalyzing the why versus the actual, the actual outcome. So I think ultimateis about with prioritization, I think, and I think that stems from thetop down as well, or Allian I think. I think I'm talking aboutthe seat the C suite here and activity which drives the needles so significantly ascoaching. They should be the top down should be actually telling their managers,you need a fine time and your calendars to to be to Ti to coachingand we're going to make sure that's prioritized. So that's that's kind of covers offbook at Number One. I means that the second book it was aroundmanagers not knowing how to coach, and this is maybe a bigger issue ina very much more real issue and real excuse, because coaching is not askill that everybody just learns overnight. You have to be trained how to coat, you have to learn how to give feedback in the right way. Youneed to know who you should be spending most time coaching in your sales team. And again, I think a lot of managers are just promoted to thosepositions and they're just told Okay, go ahead and coaching improve your team,but they don't know where to begin. And I think companies need to takemore seriously about enabling their managers, giving them the tools and the the educationon how to actually coach their reps. and I think when we do that, managers get more confident about coaching and they get more serious about what todo it too. Yeah, that makes sense. And for the first forthe first element of your young something your previous question. I would you thinkthe use of technology is actually changing the seals, couching, the management ofresources? Do you think it's actually confusing things? Do you think it's something, because there is always at that saying...

...of either even fish to a manevery day and you will come back the day a dozen the day after tohave a fish. You know from you or teaching out to fish and youwill become a Fisher Manu you can go when they will be. So doyou think technology can actually help you to not just give you the numbers andgive you that, but also give you the fundamental as to the why youcould change, what needs to be done, what needs to be cush so basicallydoing the end then he's in the number of really on dust on theareas of improvements. All is that the GLOGIA actually do that. And youthink the ends and do think that being deployed sufficiently to support to support sensleaders? Yeah, it's a good question. I think before we look at thetechnology we have to just make sure that the culture is right in abusiness because if the culture isn't right, the technology is just not going tobe valued as not going to be used. So companies have to make sure thatthey've actually got that culture of coaching, that they've got people in the businesswho want a coach, who wants to improve. People are sales peopleand they have to also have a culture again, from the top down,understands the the value of coaching. You know, if we dedicate serious timeat this, then we've seen the the impact on quote retainment. We've seenthe impact on staff retention. We've seen the impact on, you know,keep keeping a hold of our top performers. So once you've got that, thatthat culture, then technology just becomes the enabler in helping make that aneffective process. And coming back to the challenge of time reliant is to probablyone of the the number one factor is too why I year sales sales managersaren't coaching and I'm not seeing that people don't have time. Sales managers aresome of the busiest people out there and we have to be finding ways toactually well, if we need to, for them to see that coaching isis not an audious process, and technology can help with that. So whenwe look at how tools like refracted being utilized, you know we're telling salesleaders which are the conversations that they should be pay most attention to. Heis a thousand sales conversations over the past two weeks. Out of those conversations, which are the ones where there is the most coaching opportunity? Where themissed opportunities? Where are the conversations that that managers should be spending and makingthe most of their coaching time? So and in that regard, where technologyis helping managers understand where they should be applying their their limited coaching time.But there's also benefits here, not just young I'm talking a lot about managershere. The Benefits of coaching can actually be seen on the REP level,and what I mean by that is we're seeing a huge trend of things likepeer to peer coaching, where and sales people are actually can become even moreeffective at giving their peers feedback and helping to support their peers then as muchas their managers can. So you know, as in a sales team, we'reall having the same sales conversations, were all facing the same objections,we're all dealing with the same situations every single day and oftentimes just being ableto give embrace peer to peer feedback give our colleagues the chance to give asecondary perspective. We're seeing that that approach being used more and more in businessesand it's actually taking a lot of the responsibility a way from from managers,and technology is just becoming a way to make that process easier for for salespeople to give each other feedback, to to get insights and what the conversationsthat their peers are having. So and the other key thing about why technologyis helpful in driving that culture is one of the Big Fall Downs of coachingis that coaching isn't tracked as not measured. If it's not if it's not measured, then it's not going to be effective, and technology has the abilityto actually track outcomes of coaching sessions and gives very real metro tricks about isthe is the sales person actually changing their behaviors? One of the things thesalesperson is to work on, and how can we actually make that a measurableactivity? So yeah, I think fundamentally it's about culture, but then secondly, the technology is there to really drive...

...that change and really make that processesas simple as possible. And speaking about culture, because I think it's kindof my last question is probably wide brought upon question, but I think whenyour sales manager and sometimes individual many difficult to kind of clean that from theso if you go to them and say hey, you're managing a team,can you get them to do that? Why are you not them boring todo that? And you can be called in. Everyone ability to manage team'svery easy to be called from the outside and particular if you've got a bitof experience, is also very difficult, I think, for the individual managersand and particularly they being promoted from with it, which is something that youmentioned only on. You know, a good footballer or Good Soccer Playoff orAmerican audience may not be a good coach. You know, they may be agreat individual and the May have front the stick skills, but they contydon't have the people management skills. And and unfortunately we all have to dealwith that, you know, and we all love the promotion from within,because that's is building a culture from a perspective. Now, sometimes it's difficultto get people to change and it's difficult to get people to realize that,you know, they are babies are in a way, so which is awhich is which we should seven things true and and and the quish that Iwanted to rescue is based on that. So we see, it's kind ofan open native question, I think. Would ask you, do you thinkhe's better to get this as coaching done internity or getting done externally and basicallyhaving it does up all ways, which isn't young internal team who get whatyou're doing, when power people and eventually direction is to what you should do. Yeah, great, great question. I think when we look at someof the big challenges that companies have in creating coaches in their in their team, it's because they are not they're not arming their managers with the actual skillsand capabilities to be effective coaches and oftentimes businesses they don't even have the expertiseand house to be able to teach to coach managers to be better coaches.And in those situations I'm an advocate of looking for outside support, for findingpeople who can actually develop the skills of managers. And I do believe they'reand we work with organizations who are essentially there. They're providing coaching as aservice. And you know what, we partner with about a hundred sales coachesand consultancies who are doing that coaching as a service on behalf of clients whodon't have the resources or the time or capacity capacity to be able to dothat coaching on a regular on a regular basis and actually the that that's that'sI believe that's a really great solution for companies who just don't have the infrastructure, the the persona's internally to be able to do that themselves. That beingsaid, I don't think businesses can grow just being reliant on external providers todo that. I think, I think companies it's a great way to startand I think over time to become selves to sustainable, they have to atsome point, you know, create that coaching culture because it's going to bemore cost effective as an overhead in the in the long run, but it'salso going to I think, when we when we when we make our ownpeople better coaches, that builds better relationships with the sales reps. and whenwe have better relationships with the sales reps, they're typically going to be bet moremotivated, they're going to be more driven and that has huge impact onon staff retention. So yeah, I think I think there's a place forboth. But I think I'm a, you know, big believer in lookingat for outside support if you don't feel like you have those capabilities internally,even at a senior level. And I think we're seeing a real big strendin the market of companies investing in things like coaching as a service without outsourceproviders. But I think for long gevity, like with anything else, they needto they need to create that coaching culture, because that's the thing that'syou know, they're going to become more sustainable in the long run. Yeah, and I'm going to get carried away...

...another so this is this is mylast question, but that this one is definitely my last one. You know, I'm a big believer in self coaching. I've been promoting code a few fewpeople in my teams of other as few years and and I've always lookedat people who can who can adapt, you know, that chameleon in theteam, someone that will rate somewhere, will listen someonees, will get intoa podcast like the one who are recording just now and try to get someperspective from the outside and adapt that in that day to day walk. I'ma big BILLIV in self coaching and I've got a lots of respect for peopleactually take a good look at themselves in the mirror every day, try toon those more the gap in their skills are and go and try to getthe information themselves that just wait for the manager to give it to them because, yeah, I don't think I's felt if you know you what your yourissues are and what you need to walk on because you've been told you shoulddo whatever I text to go and get that information. You should do whateverI text to go and develop that skip that. That's why perspective on fact. Now, how do you get people to do? I guess it's tooto side the question, but how do you get them, first of all, to realize what the other gap induskill seties without without without upsetting them ina way? And also how you encourage people to go and self teach themselves, because there is lots of resources out there. You got all your books, you've got methodology, you've got lots of podcasts likely to be a rover, you acceleration, that you can listen to. But how do you actuallyget people to get auto motivate them to adapt a time to go and sellcoachself? Yeah, so, you know, you said it yourself, a reliand being a big believer in self coaching, and actually I completely echoedup, because sometimes the best, best coaches are actually ourselves, and I'llgive a great example of this. I see it frequently in businesses and I'vehad this myself with a we do you know weekly coaching sessions here a refractand I do want the one coaching sessions. What I'll do is I'll get oneof my sales people for examples. Example, let's just take an SDon this. This happened very recently and they had a had a sales calland they felt they had that had a good conversation with the prospect. Theconversation was about six minutes long, but the conversation didn't convert with an appointmentunder the the SDR kind of came off the course. I don't know whathappened, just it all seemed to be going so well, had a goodconversation, but the prospect was completely noncommittal. They didn't want to they didn't wantto get demo. Can you listen? Can you listen to the call andtell me what what I could have done differently? And I said,okay, before I do that, why don't you just listen back to thatconversation yourself and I want you to tell me what you think you could havedone differently in that situation. So they said okay, so they listened backto the conversation and learn behold, they came back to me and said,rich is, here's four five things in the conversation I think I could havedone differently in that situation and you know, they picked out points where they didmissed out some key signals from the prospect which they could have picked upon. They identified they've just been talking a bit too much on the onthe sales call. They felt that they closed the try to go for theclose too late. All of these things were absolutely bang on the money.Like these are that these are the same things that I personally would have givenfeedback on. But the the yes, you are actually had identified those thingsthemselves without me having to even point them out. And it's amazing what happensthat when we self reflect, when we listen back, when we take alook at ourselves, it's amazing how much we can actually identify and course,correct our ourself. So I think any company could should be embracing that ofdon't just get managers to give all the answers, because that's not always themost effective way of coaching. Often get get sales people to just try andfigure out the answers themselves. In ninety percent of the time they'll be ableto bill be able to figure it out. And how can we encourage that moreto happen in organizations? I think key part of this is is stillash share what what top performers do differently, being able to share conversations or opportunitiesor experiences or stories from our top sales people. What are those conversationssound like? But why is this person...

...who's constantly top with the leaderboard?What are they doing differently? What are they saying? What are the questionsthey're asking? How do they handle objections? Start to expose that more across thebusiness because, guess what, sales people are the very competitive that theywant to they want to know why they're not top of the leaderboard. Theywant to know why this person who sits across the room or in another officegets so much better results than they do. So that's just just let's start exposingthat and sharing that and let's start trying to take those take those examplesof what those are doing and starting to learn off others. And I thinkwhen you get that culture of collaboration where you're sharing what, just simply whatthe top performance are doing differently than sales people are going to start to askand start to seek out that information more and more and I think that's wherewe see again that that culture of coaching and a culture of self improvement reallybuilding and businesses. Yeah, completely agree with you. We thank you verymuch for us, Richard. So at the age of the conversation, becausewe need to close up, always as a question to to our guests,which is, if someone wants to carry on the conversation with you, takeit of fly, but actually look at at what's refract could do for theirbusiness. Because, let's say, see the reason why we speak, it'sbecause we look at freefract as a solution for varieties and we think it couldbe a great and for us, and I think you years of actually donea great job in the in the approach, in the demon creation or that.So I the believe that your since training is on point. But ifanyone wants to want to follow up with you, get in touch, gothrough the conversation, speak about what freefract could do for their business. What'sthe best way to get rid of your richards? Yeah, the the bestway really and is just to connect with you on Linkedin. I'm quite activethere a I'm even if somebody just wants to have a conversation about coaching,know about refract. I'm you know, I feel like I've learned a fewthings along the way I'm by no means a coaching expert, but I haveyou to share any ideas, success stories, best practices of what we see working. If you are, you know, looking to build that culture, youfeel like you're the something missing in Your Business, which is which youthink, or you just feel like you could be doing a better job asa sales monitor, all sales leader, you know, just just drop mea message. I'll be happy to have a very informal chat. And,yeah, Linkedin Richard Smith refract, you'll be able to find me as thebest way to contact me. The stuff what we twas great to Agin theshort reach out. Thank you very much, floming today. Yeah, appreciate thanksvery much. You. ratant. operatics has redefined the meaning of revenuegeneration for technology companies worldwide. While the traditional concepts of building and managing insidesales teams inhouse has existed for many years, companies are struggling with a lack offocus, agility and scale required in today's fast and complex world of enterprisetechnology sales. See How operatics can help your company accelerate pipeline at operatics dotnet. You've been listening. To be to be revenue acceleration, to ensure thatyou never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (120)